Friday, 18 January 2008

Senior Attorney's Assessment On PP's Charges And Trials

17 January 2008
Original Source : DVB

The recently detained political prisoners could be put into two main groups : 1)the August commodity prices group and 2), the September protest group.

Until now, it is not known of any trial for the August group yet. However, some of the September group have been through trials. Some of them appeared before their regional township magistrate courts, some being held at the main magistrate court and some were being remanded to be heard inside Insein prison.

When given remands, there could be multiple charges, but often, some or all of the charges could be dropped too. Ko Thein Shwe, for instance, was charged under 4 or 5 different sections but now the judge has confirmed only one: 505b.

As far as the security police are concerned, they will have to charge the defendants with series of Sections of the relevant Acts. However, if the prosecution can't get witnesses enough for each charge, then the court will have to examine the case and reduce or amend the charges. Under these conditions, there will be much delay in the cases.

Some other cases need approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs, where they check and reassess the case, so quite often the magistrate courts will have to wait and so they keep giving remands.

Magistrate courts also work within office hours. It is not uncommon for a judge to deliver the remand inside prison for some cases. It just means that there will not be any hearing yet. In some cases,the remand could be given in the prison for security reasons too.

Basically, the defendants' future is now entirely in the hands of court, which keep them in custody. Therefore any issue relating to those defendants is the direct responsibility of the magistrates court. The court must make sure that they are informed of any of the defendants' well-being issues, while being in custody.
Usually, a judge would ask the defendant if there is anything he or she wants to say, during the remand. It is a normal practice for any judge to give a chance to the defendant for their say.

" The court hearing will be on this day. Have you anything you wish to say? The prosecution witness is not present today for the following reason (....... ), this is according to the law. Have you anything you wish to say? If not, the next court hearing will be on the following date (........)"

(U Aung Thein)

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